The Brighton Wheel has been been refused permission to stay in place for five more years.
The planning application led to a confrontation between Paramount Entertainments – the owner and operator of the Wheel – and the rival i360 which is currently under construction.
Temporary planning permission for the Wheel is due to expire on 19 May 2016 – six weeks before the planned opening date of the i360.
The decision was made by the Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee in a meeting at Portslade Town Hall this afternoon (Wednesday 24 June).
Glynn Jones, chairman of the i360’s landlord, the West Pier Trust, opposed the Wheel’s application on behalf of the Kingscliffe Society.
“The Kingscliffe Society is the official amenity group for the East Cliff Conservation Area where the wheel is situated and represents hundreds of residents in the area.
“Their view is that the wheel is having a harmful, dominating and devastating impact in their homes and on their lives.
“At no point has the planning officer nor the Planning Committee visited any of these residents’ homes to see first hand the harmful impact.
“This view is backed up by the council’s own Heritage Team which stated that the wheel causes ‘harm’ to the East Cliff Conservation Area and to heritage views.
“As noted in paragraph 134 of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework which states that, where harm to a heritage asset has been identified, that harm should be balanced against the public benefits of the scheme.
“Section 73(2)(b) states in plain English if the conditions are the same as previous, which they are, then you shall refuse it.
“The Wheel will tower over the proposed Volk’s Aquarium Station redevelopment.
“We dispute that there is any benefit to the continued operation of the Wheel.
“The economic benefit claims made by the applicant are highly dubious and have not been substantiated by any hard data.
“Brighton and Hove Economic Partnership has objected to the Wheel and challenged that the Wheel will is bringing any economic benefit.
“Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance, which represents key tourism businesses such as the Sea Life Centre and Brighton Pier, has also objected to the Wheel.
“Their view is that Paramount is happy to make money off tourists who are already in the city but is doing nothing to bring new tourists to Brighton and Hove and Paramount does not work collaboratively.
“For the sake of the affected residents, who have the right under law to the peace of their own homes, for the conservation of the area as a whole and in honour of an agreement in respect of the i360 development, we hope that the application for the continuance of the Wheel beyond the current five-year tenure will be refused by the Planning Committee.
“Paramount will make an argument that they need more time in case the i360 is delayed.
“Anyone who has been following the rapid progress on the seafront will know that the i360 is ahead of schedule and is on track to open on 1 July 2016.
“We would urge you, if you are minded to grant this planning application, then only until 1 July 2016, not an extra five years.”
Planning consultant Ian Coomber, of Stiles Harold Williams, spoke for the Brighton Wheel. He said: “I am represent the applicant.
“Avoiding any of the smokescreen created by a competing business, the original planning permission was temporary simply to allow an assessment of harm from the scheme and ensure no conflict with any emerging seafront strategy.
“It was not temporary on the basis of the i360.
“Indeed this does not feature at all in any your material planning considerations.
“It is regrettable a decision has had to wait three weeks simply because of ongoing and persistent intervention from another business.
“But you have before you a very robust and comprehensive report from your head of town planning.
“The detail has been thoroughly assessed since the application was lodged as far back as February.
“In summary it broadly adheres to the policy of your adopted development plan and, as you are advised, the application has no planning reason to be opposed.
“It is incredibly interesting to note the volume of opposition to the original planning application and the contrast with the current consultation responses.
“We now have 89 supporters and 28 objectors, the most prevalent of which is a competing business a mile to the west of the site.
“CAG (the Conservation Advisory Group) has no objection. Historic England has raised no objection. Indeed the attraction came runner up in a Heritage Coast photo competition recently.
“The Regency Society has not objection. And you planning policy team confirm the scheme meets with current local and national policy objectives.
“Visit Brighton is keen to see a diverse range of attractions in the city to encourage leisure visitors and recognises the attraction contributes to the tourism offer of the city.
“I have mentioned this already but will repeat it again … Competition between rival businesses such as the i360 is not a material planning consideration and monitoring of the Wheel in operation has shown this is not a problem. A further temporary planning permission is appropriate.
“I would simply add that today you can give a little more job security to 50 staff at the Wheel. Some are in the public gallery eagerly awaiting your debate.
“I would dearly like to think you will support your planning officer’s thoroughly prepared recommendation, reviewed again in the face of legal queries from a competitor and keep this beacon of regeneration on an otherwise deteriorating stretch of seafront for five more years.”
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